GrainCorp announces shock resignation of CEO

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 21st January 2010

ASX-listed malt producer and flour miller GrainCorp has today reported the resignation of Managing Director Mark Irwin, with immediate effect.

Mr Ian Wilton, currently GrainCorp’s Chief Financial Officer, has been appointed as interim Chief Executive Officer after the surprise announcement – for which no reason was given.

“Mr Irwin had driven significant change within GrainCorp since he became Managing Director in March 2008,” GrainCorp Chairman Don Taylor said. “He successfully led the acquisition in November 2009 of United Malt Holdings and introduced a range of internal reforms. The board thanks him for his contribution to the company and wishes him well in his future career.”

In announcing the appointment of the interim CEO, Mr Taylor said he was confident Mr Wilton would perform strongly in the new role as they carry out an international search for a replacement.

“Ian joined GrainCorp in June 2009 as the CFO and played a very important role in the recent acquisition of United Malt Holdings,” he advised. “He has extensive international and Australian agribusiness and grains industry experience and is the former CFO of ConAgra Malt, the company that subsequently became United Malt Holdings.”

Mr Irwin said he appreciated his time at eastern Australia’s largest grain handler but did not outline the reasons behind his resignation.

“I have enjoyed my time at GrainCorp and appreciate the support provided to me by both employees and the Board for the significant process and cultural changes necessary to compete in the deregulated Australian wheat market,” he remarked. “Together with the balance sheet initiatives of mid 2009 and the United Malt Holdings acquisition in November 2009, we have transformed GrainCorp into an international agribusiness.”

The company also took the opportunity to reassure investors that they expected to meet the earnings guidance provided to the market on December 22 but their shares still fell 4.5 per cent in morning trade.